Learning patience, bravery, humility through chess

EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Is your child struggling at school or having trouble finding an extracurricular activity they enjoy? Try chess.

Imagine a world where knights defend queens and castles loom large over your kingdom. Welcome to the East Greenbush Chess Community where the motto is: “Chess is good for ya.”

People young and old travel near and far for free lessons and competition. Why?

“It’s great for the brain,” Bill Matters, of the East Greenbush Chess Community, said.

With every triumph and defeat, these pawns become kings in the real world.

“I’ve had parents tell me they’ll come after their kids been working for us for a while, and tell me all their grades are up,” Matters said. “I’ve seen it firsthand.”

It was a packed house recently because a star was in attendance. Irina Krush, a chess grandmaster who won the world championship at 14, was there to teach for free.

How did that happen? It was thanks to Martha Samadashvila, of Albany. At 13, she’s one of the best players in the world.

Last year, while playing a tournament in the state of Georgia, Matters spotted Krush across the room and knew she lived in Brooklyn.

“And you said, ‘I’m from New York, too, and you should come up here?'” NEWS10 ABC anchor John Gray asked Matters.

“It was an opportunity,” he responded with a laugh.

So for one day, local kids, big and small, played a grandmaster. And, if you’ll forgive the pun, got “Krushed.”

But it’s not about winning.

“There’s just so many life lessons to learn from playing chess,” Krush said. “Every chess player is a truth seeker. You know, it’s not only what they want to be. It’s what it is; what is this position on the chess board; who’s better? And there’s an answer to that on the chess board, and they try to find it.”

The kids find hope. Patience, bravery, humility. Stack it together and it sounds a lot like another challenging game.

“Is chess easier than life or are they parallel?” John Gray asked.

“I think chess is very parallel,” Krush responded. “I mean, of course, life has a lot more factors in it, but I can say, I think, chess does help with life.”

Everyone is welcome at the East Greenbush Chess Community, and it’s always free.

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